In addition, the already planned visits to galleries and seminars given by talented thinkers, artists and / or curators invite to instruct the participants in knowledge, questions and conversations about contemporary art as well as to know how to insert themselves in it professionally. This also gave me the opportunity to explore the cultural richness, the idiosyncrasy and the art world that unfolds in the incredible and now beloved city of Berlin.
I would also like to highlight the loving disposition and task of its directors, the artists Stephanie Jünemann and Ralf Schmitt, virtuous human beings who give themselves to the participants in a interested and careful way, generating each one to carry out their own process, guiding from a non-pretentious place or higher; and with enough love to stimulate everyone in their own aspirations. I hope to come back, because I feel that thanks to this institution I was able at a particular moment in my life to rediscover part of my paternal roots in this beloved European land and thus realize an important and unforgettable internal process that transcended even my own art.”
The directors Ralf and Stephanie are excellent mentors in the sense that they have a wealth of knowledge about the art world from business, creative and social perspectives, but they allow you to absorb and enquire at your own pace. The program is structured in such a way that participants must be self-motivated and decide how much or little they want to achieve during their stay, but stimulating discourse, advice and collaborative growth are available at all times from Ralph, Stephanie and the other participants. The atmosphere of the studio, especially if it is a reasonably full block of study, is energetic and motivating. Berlin has a wealth of art events and spaces to explore and the Program encourages participants to expand their artistic practice beyond the studio (sometimes it’s hard to leave… you may get lost in the studio painting, chatting to your mates and living off pretzels from the bakery next door).
If you enroll in the Portfolio Program there is ample opportunity to discuss your work and plenty of constructive critique on what artistic path may be the best for you, how to compile your portfolio and what to include to make you a serious candidate when applying to schools.
If you’re looking for a lot of workshops or intensive teaching, this may not be so much for you – there are stimulating guest lectures, seminars or workshops each week, but this is not an instructive school. It is very self-motivated and more about allowing you to learn about your own art practice and giving you the space and discourse to do so.
Overall I would highly recommend the institute. Many people come for a one-month stay, to experiment in a new setting and be inspired by the art scene in Berlin. I would recommend staying a little longer – the participants are very international and so transient that sometimes it feels as though a month passes in a rush of new faces only to be replaced the next month. Stay a while and you will experience the full value of the creative environment.
Many thanks to Ralf and Stephanie for their positive energy and commitment!”
At the BAI I was pushed to rethink and rethink about what I was doing, why I was doing it, everything was questioned and I think that is very important while doing art so that you don’t finish producing to produce and that’s it. The proposals or the comments they’ve done about my work where always constructive, and I left Berlin with lots of ideas and concerns.
I think the program has a great combination between the advantage of having a working space for your own where you can manage your own times, go wherever you want and have a lot of time to produce and the “lectures” and talks with Stephanie and Ralf. Listening to others talk about what they do and also sharing what I was trying to say with my work was the other essential part of the program for me.
The other great part of the Program is the contact with lots of contemporary artist form there, how they work, what they are doing, visits to galleries and what’s really good is that they are very variated so that you can get to now lots of different ways of doing art nowadays.
I finished the stay at Berlin having learned so many things, I’ve got to know lots of people for all over the world, with different cultures, different ways of living than mine, and of course an enormous range of different pieces of works which was very very enriching for me.”
From the first day of my program in BAI, I believe I never stopped learning. From being very sceptical to believing in the sincerity of ones conduct was the biggest lesson I learnt.
The program and the institute is well designed by Ralf and Stephanie to make one aware about the world outside as well as from inside. The lectures and the guests invited at BAI was one of the best moments. It personally helped me to be vocal about my choices, interaction and my technics. Ralf and Stephanie’s participation in the interest of each participant was phenomenally encouraging. Most of all the besides the exposure to the new culture and the art scene, the institute makes you an independent being able to see a perspective of your own.
I thank Ralph and Stephanie for their contribution, honesty and moral support at every step. Hoping to see them again this summer.”
Our meetings every morning were always filled with fascinating conversations on everything and anything – as well as a fresh pot of coffee or tea! The visitors we had, ranging from artists to curators to people running galleries and project spaces, were always ready to fully engage with us, and being able to discuss our work with them was a great opportunity. Our frequent trips to different project spaces and galleries were also fantastic – being able to meet with the artists showing and the curators of the spaces offered us great insights to the work presented.
The Spring Academy, which was week 1 of my second block, was a very intensive week, with different speakers every day and ending with an evening trip to the Berlin Art Weekend. Again, the artists, curators and others who came to speak to us were fantastic, giving very interesting talks on the theme – Art In Public Space – and speaking to us about our own work, and the visit to various exhibitions was interesting and a lot of fun!
Ralf and Stephanie, as well as the visitors who spoke or ran workshops, were always full of suggestions of where to go and what to see, and really helped me to make the most of staying in a city as wonderful as Berlin. My fellow participants were a diverse, fantastic group of people – all of us at different moments on our artistic journeys, but all equals and all supporting one another. Due to the supportive, positive atmosphere, and the fascinating discussions we enjoyed, during my time at BAI my work grew and changed in very positive ways. I am now studying a Masters in Fine Art at Northumbria University, and my time at BAI helped me to get to where I am now. It’s something I’ll always remember, and I can’t wait to go back!”
The concept itself is quite interesting as it brings together a diverse group of people from different backgrounds. Participants are met as equals and they are all brought to work together rather than arranging them in groups based on skill or experience. In the end it’s this way of thinking that sets Stephanie and Ralf apart from many others and makes BAI special. I was able to learn a lot just by observing, discussing and sharing ideas with the others.
Most of all, Stephanie and Ralf put a lot of effort on planning each block to best suit the needs of the participants. I’m grateful for their kindness and support and glad to share the news that I’ve now been accepted without conditions to the 1st bachelor Basicyear of the four year full-time Bachelor’s degree programme Art & Design of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie.”
In the first month I didn’t use my studio space so much: I was busy going to all of the lectures and seminars…. It’s hard to keep up with all the references ! Ralf and Steph know so much about what’s on or what’s relevant to what’s just been said and so do the people you are working alongside. Because of this you tend to leave BAI with pages of things to research, remember or go and see and of course it’s not always possible to do all of it… but its a super exciting way to get to know a city.
Because there are new people coming in every week to talk to you about their work you never know what to expect… Apart from coffee which there is always lots of. Because the group is small it’s very intimate especially for the seminars, where you have 3 days in a row with one artist. I really don’t think it’s like anything else, some in particular have stuck with me. It is also a rare situation when the visitors review your work because they may never see you again, which brings an honesty. Of course some criticism you chose to ignore but it was so helpful for me to have this instead of it being tiptoed round like I have often found before with art. Small bits of important advice like how to deal with form and content which completely changed how I have been working ever since.
Once I started working I found myself in the studio all of the time… Often with a few projects on the go and the remaining the months went way too quickly! Ralf and Steph took so much time to help me with my portfolio.. They came in on extra days to look at it; with them I took it apart, re-ordered it, titled it. Steph sat on the floor with me one afternoon helping me measure paintings I had to mount, leaning on the ruler so I could try and cut in straight lines.
I cannot thank them enough for the 4 months I spent at BAI !! I miss it a lot and when I go back to Berlin I will absolutely definitely visit. I got an offer from my top choice, the Gerrit Reitveld Acadamie in Amsterdam where I will start in August and I have no doubt I wouldn’t have got it without my time spent in Berlin. Thank you, thank you, thank you!.”
The fellow participants in the studio program are equally amazing. My group back in 2017 was a truly international mix. We were about 10 people from at least 6 different countries. Though we were from different parts of the world, art, Berlin and BAI bounded us together. We supported our peers’ work, gave others our honest feedbacks, and some of us even collaborated on projects. It was extremely delightful to be surrounded by like-minded, brilliant young artists from various art practices and cultural backgrounds. Together we made art and also had a lot of fun.
One of the highlights during my month of stay was when all the participants went out and helped artist duo Various & Gould with their public art project “City Skins”. We went to the Marx-Engels Forum for a day and worked with Various & Gould to apply paper onto the iconic Marx and Engels sculpture. The end goal was to peel off the paper and make a duplicate of the sculpture with paper. It was a fulfilling day for us and an exclusive way for a first-time Berlin visitor to experience the city.
The time at BAI was refreshing for me. There I adopted a completely different approach to making art. Usually I would plan my project first and carry out the plan step by step. At BAI, I learnt to let go of my control a little and be inspired by the world around me. The project I did there was a fun, weird and ambiguous video featuring a toy steamboat I found at one of Berlin’s many flea markets. It is a special project for me that will always remind me of the wonderful time I spent at BAI and the vibrant city of Berlin.”
While I was there I developed various portfolios for my applications and now, after what I consider a very short period of time, I am now part of the Freie Kunst program in the Art Academy of Düsseldorf.
The BAI provided the fertile atmosphere for me to develop my art practice. It was a platform that allowed myself to flourish individually, digging deeper into my own interests while promoting self-reflection thanks to the flexibility and freedom of the program, in addition to the open-minded attitude of Ralf and Steffi. They both understand the importance of discussing the artistic work – their constructive critiques and feedback is something that I definitely appreciated.
Being in the program, I got a small insight into the Berlin art world and was introduced to other interesting practicing artists during the seminars and talks. Being exposed to these factors, that aren’t always of easy access, was extremely stimulating.
All this pushed me to experiment and find out plenty of different creative possibilities while sharing amazing experiences and cooperating together with other artists attending the program. It was fun and productive times where I developed what I think as a strong, consistent portfolio.
The BAI was a good, enriching and very motivating starting point that helped me get one step closer to my future ambitions. Warm greetings to Ralf & Steffi and a sentimental thought to the amazing workplace that I was provided with.”
I am so grateful to have been nurtured under the BAI, and now a few months later I really feel that I am reaping the rewards of my time in Berlin and under the guidance of Ralf and Steffi. My creativity and flourished and the BAI gave me the necessary in put to develop. It’s a rare and special place, and for those that are able to see and understand that will really come out a much stronger individual.”
Ralf and Stephanie have a wealth of knowledge that they share freely and openly. They follow your lead and tailor their input to your expressed needs. They make you feel comfortable in the new environment and free to express yourself within a discursive and experiential space. There are no boundaries. Lectures, studio visits, guest seminars and informative workshops added valuable knowledge to the experience. I returned to Cape Town empowered and invigorated by the dynamic energy of both Ralf and Stephanie and the participants.”
The fact that we had the opportunity to discuss our work with artists coming from different fields was very enriching and was essential for me to progress in my art. The talks with other participants were equally as inspiring and by interacting with them and their skills, I was able to learn new techniques, such as screen printing and acrylic pouring.
The studios are based in a charming industrial area and are spacious, well-lit and perfect for documentation (I should know). The fact that I shared the studio with 4 other participants made it feel even more like home and it quickly became my favourite place to spend time in. I spent a total of 2 ½ months at the institute, during which I met amazing artists and people, leaving me with a load of works, I can now thankfully call my portfolio.”
You are able to establish a relationship with peers sharing a space that encourages you to exchange ideas and, most possibly, come up with new ones for future projects. Ralf and Stephanie are very helpful and always willing to assist or guide you in any way they can.”
The studios of BAI are located in very inspiring post-industrial buildings. The spaciousness , bright rooms, shared for 3-4 artists were an ideal space to create and communicate. I enjoyed participating in a wide range of lectures and visits, which gave me the opportunity to explore the wealth of culture and art of Berlin. During my stay in BAI I saw my own work anew, from a different perspective. My experience in BAI gave me the energy and new ideas on how to continue my artistic path. I feel that the artists I met in BAI gave me a lot of motivation to develop my practice. I returned with new plans and a new strategy. Many thanks for Stephanie and Ralf, who are fully engaged, enthusiastic and professional in each aspect. I appreciate their work and also the atmosphere they have created . BAI is the place for dynamic growth for artists in different stages and interests.”
I enrolled at the Berlin Art Institute without really knowing what to expect. I knew that I wanted a place which would allow me to express myself, somewhere where I could make art, in a city that inspires and arouses all your passions and ideas. At BAI, I found what I needed at this time of my life. Not only did I meet incredible artists from all over the world, some of which have become really good friends, but I also learnt about all kinds of art and art works; I visited exhibitions I could never have heard of; and for the first time, I was able to figure out what I wanted to do and I learned to be able to show my work to other artists, talk about it and listen to the really interesting feedback.
The Berlin Art Institute is a paradise for artists. I had never been at a place like this, with its large factory chimneys, the wide windows and white walls waiting to be covered by new pieces. I enjoyed nights of crazy painting and mornings of never-ending coffee at the studio. Being there makes you want to work all the time, always with the good advice of Ralf and Stephanie and other fellow artists and seminar visitants, as a source of constant inspiration. I had to leave BAI three months ago, but I already miss it like crazy and I am looking for the opportunity to come back to it. I hope it’ll be really soon.”
I have the most positive impressions of the studio program which nurtured me for one month and one week, allowing me to grow as an artist naturally, thoughtfully. I cannot see how any other experience could have been any more perfect for where I stand with my work and where I stand in life today than this program.
The multiple presentations and critiques each week, the visiting artists, curators, gallery directors that I got to speak to about my work, the studio facilities, the location, group trips, the city culture, the locals, the fellow participating artists that have come from around the world, and of course the knowledgeable, experienced directors Stephanie and Ralf all came together in gently moving me along my own path, providing the guidance I thirsted for, for years. I am excited to keep working in the direction I began to explore, which has been waiting for me for so long. I would like to thank everyone in the program again for helping this experience happen. I am excited for collaborative work with the artists I got to meet at the program.”
I’d like to use this opportunity to say a special thanks to Ralf and Stephanie, who have continued to maintain contact with me since my residency in 2016 – forwarding opportunities and maintaining a vested interest in my development. They always keep an open door for an alumni, I look forward to returning and seeing how the program has developed in the near future.”
I left the BAI with an abundance of work, both developmental and finalised, and some great ideas to move forward with. I was really pleased with the outcome, and would highly recommend a stint at the Berlin Art Institute to any stage artist.”
Conversation is at the heart of the BAI philosophy, a conversation to learn, think and express. The rhythm is intense I would not hide it from you, but it is with this exercise that we are urged to extract the essence of our thoughts and our Art. I would liken my three months in BAI like three months of immersion in an artist accelerator. To be immersed in such an international group, with such different cultures and experiences is an extraordinary opportunity, not to mention the exceptional quality of the speakers who openly share their successes and failures.
I would also point out that such an environment would not work as well if the atmopshere was not the bienvaillance. Ralf and Stephanie opened their arms to help shape us.”
The program offers a diverse array of lectures, studio visits, and tours that expose participants to the vibrant art community in Berlin. Also this introduces participants to a range of driven professionals, which creates an opportunity for them to experience their diverse practices. The international presence of the program was a great quality as well because it enabled me to connect with inspiring artists from many countries, and build relationships that can lead to future collaborations. In the end, I found the Studio Programme quite successful in helping me give new direction to my practice. The program helped me explore ideas to implement into my future work, and allowed me to expand on my capabilities as an artist.”
The weekly gallery visits and Artist talks put me in touch with different works and creators from around the world and gave me an insight into the art world of Berlin which helped to solidify my thoughts on my own style and how to build on the concepts I was just touching on.
With the 24 Hour access to the studios I was able to work on my own terms and on a time frame that suited my needs. The international element of the programme was and incredible experience and gave me the chance to interact and collaborate with artists from every corner of the globe. Many of which will remain close friends for years to come, creating a firm networking opportunity.
I have now been accepted into my first choice course at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands with the help of Stephanie and Ralf and all the support I received at the BAI.”
The studio programme at the BAI gave me the space and freedom to explore my artistic practice. With 24 hour access to studios I was able to create a schedule that worked for me rather than the other way around, this I found really conducive to my learning experience and creative production.
The international element of the programme creates a diverse and stimulating cohort. I have met people that have become firm friends and future collaborators. One of the most beneficial parts of the programme I found to be was the quality one-on-one time and access to a variety of creative practitioners. This was an invaluable experience and a wonderful opportunity to create networks outside of the BAI and form nurturing relationships beyond the programme. This something that I can look back on now that I am in formal art education in the UK and really appreciate.
What makes the BAI truly special though are Stephanie and Ralf. Inspiring, nurturing, supportive and engaging artists and educators. They really held my hand whilst I was learning to walk and my experience learning with them has had a monumental transformative impact on my practice. Giving me the much needed confidence to apply myself wholeheartedly to my future ambitions. Thank you BAI.”